The Brazil-Florida Business Council, Inc. ("BFBC") is an independent, not-for-profit business association based in Tampa, Florida. The BFBC was established in 2014 to forge closer ties between the business communities of Brazil and Florida by fostering bilateral trade and investment opportunities in both regions. The BFBC will provide a forum to nurture the exchange of ideas, foster networking opportunities, facilitate and drive economic growth. As a non-governmental association, the BFBC is supported by membership dues.
The BFBC is run by a volunteer board of directors composed of representatives from member companies.
This extraordinary group of influential business leaders and civic leaders is composed of past honorees of the Brazil-Florida Business Awards.
Chieko Aoki serves as Chief Executive Officer of Blue Tree Hotels & Resorts. Mrs. Aoki founded Blue Tree Hotels & Resorts and launched its brand in 1997. She works towards the development of economic and cultural relations between Brazil, United States, Japan and Latin America. She participates actively in philanthropic and social activities to which she contributes with fundraising and resources. Throughout her professional life, she worked around the world in places such as the US, Asia and Europe. She began working in 1982 as the Marketing and Sales Director of Caesar Park São Paulo and, served as the President of Caesar Park Hotels & Resorts and of the oldest and most traditional hotel chain in the US, Westin Hotels & Resorts. She is known in Brazil as the first lady of Brazilian hotel management for her innovation and talent, which has made a “benchmark” in the excellence of services in the sector. She participates in many private and government organizations, such as the Business Council of Latin America (CEAL), the Business Leaders Group (LIDE), the Brazil-Japan group of Sao Paulo's State Industry Federation (FIESP), the Brazilian Events Academy, the Association for the Centennial of Japanese Immigration and several other entities linked to tourism. In 2006, she was elected the president of LIDEM, the Group of Leading Businesswomen, and took on a position in the Brazilian Marketing Academy. She was elected president of the Consulting Council of ADVB-Japan. Mrs. Aoki is a lawyer from São Paulo University (USP), with Management courses from Sofia University in Tokyo and Hotel Management from Cornell University in the US.
Guilherme Benchimol is the Chairman of our board of directors of XP Inc., a position he has held since August 2019. Mr. Benchimol has over 20 years’ experience in the financial services market. He founded the XP group in 2001 and has been its chief executive officer since 2001. Currently, Mr. Benchimol also serves on the boards of XP Brazil as the Chairman since 2018. Mr. Benchimol holds a bachelor’s degree in business economics from Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro.
He was listed in Bloomberg50: The people who defined global business in 2018 by Bloomberg Business Week. The IPO held on NASDAQ was fourth-largest listing in the U.S. in 2019.
Bob Buckhorn was sworn in as the 58th mayor of the City of Tampa, the nation's 53th largest city, on April 1, 2011.
In the past three years, Mayor Buckhorn focused on the city and region’s economic leadership, stability, and most importantly, business opportunity. Today, local government is smarter, urban development is centered on the riverfront, and Tampa is recognized as the competitive city it is. Our continued success in those efforts will set the stage for how and why we build in tomorrow’s Tampa.
In one of his first actions as mayor, Buckhorn created a diverse panel of local business people and community activists to help reshape how City Hall does business. The results are tangible: a one-stop shop permitting process, better online accessibility to city services, and increased efficiencies, resulting in saved taxpayer dollars.
Under Buckhorn, the city is smarter about how it does business. Despite facing continued economic challenges, rising health care, personnel, and fuel costs, he has balanced the budget year after year while making strategic investments and without raising property taxes.
In efforts to re-center our city around the Hillsborough River, he has heavily invested in augmenting our pattern of urban, riverfront parks. From securing a Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant to complete the Tampa Riverwalk to striking a partnership with Bright House Networks to provide free WiFi along the riverfront, Buckhorn sees the waterfront areas as setting Tampa apart from other cities, and continues to look for ways residents and visitors can enjoy an active, vibrant riverfront.
Mayor Buckhorn is reshaping the places we live in today, but his work does not begin or end with the physical. A safe city thrives, and Buckhorn has continued to support both Tampa Police and Tampa Fire Rescue, opening three new fire houses and working with our first responders to keep crime falling. In 2012, Tampa became the largest city locally in Central Florida to establish a Domestic Partnership Registry, setting the tone regionally for equality. From embracing new ideas like Food Trucks to strengthening our neighborhoods through programs like Neighborhood University, he has set the stage to make Tampa into a more competitive city.
As mayor, Buckhorn serves on several boards and governing authorities including the Hillsborough County Aviation Authority, the Tampa Hillsborough Expressway Authority and the Tampa Port Authority. From 2011- 2012, he was also a fellow for the Urban Land Institute (ULI) Daniel Rose Center for Public Leadership in Land Use.
Previously, Buckhorn served as the Special Assistant to former Tampa Mayor Sandra Freedman, and in 1995, he was elected Tampa City Council. In 2003, Buckhorn joined the Dewey Square Group, a nationally known public affairs company, until he opened Buckhorn Partners, a public affairs firm based in Tampa, in 2007.
Buckhorn, 58, graduated from Penn State University in 1980. He is married to Dr. Catherine Lynch Buckhorn, and they have two daughters, Grace and Colleen.
José Luis Cutrale
José Luis Cutrale is the Chairman and CEO of Sucocitrico Cutrale Ltd, one of the world’s largest producers of oranges and orange juice. Mr. Cutrale has extensive experience in the agribusiness after over the 45 years in the worldwide citrus business.
Mr. Cutrale is a member of the Brazilian American Chamber of Commerce, Administrative Board of Coca Cola Femsa, Advisory Board of Spal, CitrusBR (Brazilian Association of Citrus Exporters) and CDES (Council Development Social and Economic).
He has received many honorary awards by the Brazilian American Chamber of Commerce, the Brazilian government and many other organizations and associations.
Mr. Cutrale represents Brazil in diplomatic missions and in the worldwide citrus industry.
Mr. Cutrale was the recipient of the 2017 Brazil-Florida Business Award.
David Neeleman founded Azul Linhas Aéreas Brasileiras S.A in 2008 and serves as its Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. Mr. Neeleman has been the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Azul SA, the holding company of Linhas Aéreas Brasileiras S.A since January 2008. He founded JetBlue Airways Corporation and served as Non-Executive Chairman from 2002 to May 15, 2008 and Chief Executive Officer from August 1998 to 2007. Mr. Neeleman also served as a Member of the Management Advisory Board at Towerbrook Capital Partners, L.P. From October 1995 to October 1998, he served as the Chief Executive Officer of Open Skies, Inc. He served as a Consultant to WestJet Airlines. His career in the airline industry began in 1984 when he co-founded Morris Air Corporation. From 1988 to 1994, he served as President of Morris Air Corporation and implemented the industry’s first electronic ticketing system and pioneered a home reservationist system that is now the foundation of JetBlue’s call center. Mr. Neeleman serves as Director at Superior Air Charter LLC. Mr. Neeleman was a Co-Founder of Westjet Airlines Ltd. and served as its Member of Board of Directors from 1996 to 1999. He served as an Executive Director at JetBlue Airways Corporation since May 1998 and its Director until 15, 2008. He was a Member of the Board of Advisors of Peterson Partners LP. He served as a Director of The Partnership For New York City, Inc. He served as a Member of the Board of Directors at Open Skies, Inc. He served as a Member of the Board of Directors of Morris Air Corporation.
Astronaut Marcos Pontes was born in the city of Bauru, state of São Paulo. He is an R1 Aviator Lieutenant Colonel of the Brazilian Air Force, an Aeronautical Engineer by the Aeronautical Technological Institute (ITA), a Master of Systems Engineering by the Naval Postgraduate School of California (United States).
A member of the 1998 astronaut class of NASA, Marcos Pontes is the only Brazilian to go into space and the first professional astronaut to officially represent a Southern Hemisphere country in space. Pontes went into space as part of the Centennial Mission (2006), the result of a partnership between the Brazilian Space Agency and the Russian Space Agency. He worked for 10 days at the International Space Station as a Mission Specialist, responsible for the maintenance of spacecraft systems and the carrying out of specific scientific research projects chosen by the Brazilian Academy of Sciences.
He has extensive experience as a project and program manager, with work on relevant international projects in the aerospace industry at organizations such as NASA, JAXA, ESA and Boeing, in addition to 30 years' experience in risk management and operational safety. With a strong military and academic background, Pontes holds a bachelor's degree in Public Management and serves as an ambassador of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), working mainly in sustainable development programs.
In his capacity as a Minister of State, the Brazilian astronaut will have the mission to recover the strategic role of Science, Technology and Communications for the country's development, promoting the use of innovation and public policies to produce national knowledge, wealth for the country and quality of life for the Brazilians. Another area of focus will be the establishment of international cooperation agreements with countries and economic blocs.
Joc C. O'Rourke has been the Chief Executive Officer and President at The Mosaic Company since August 5, 2015. Mr. O'Rourke served as Chief Operating Officer at The Mosaic Company from August 13, 2012 to August 5, 2015 and as its Executive Vice President of Operations from January 5, 2009 to August 5, 2015. He is responsible for Mosaic's global mining and chemical processing operations.
Ozires Silva is the founder of EMBRAER, the world’s third largest manufacturer of commercial jets. As one of the first generation of executives who built world-class competitive enterprises in Brazil, he led the way for today’s impressive roster of Brazilian CEOs, and has since played leading roles in both government and academia.
Silva was born in Bauru, São Paulo state. He graduated from the Escola de Aeronáutica do Campo dos Afonsos in Rio de Janeiro as a military pilot. He then served in the Brazilian Air Force for four years in the Amazon rainforest region. In 1962, Silva graduated from the Aeronautics Technological Institute as an aeronautical engineer. He went on to earn a master’s degree in aerospace engineering from the California Institute of Technology in 1966. Afterwards, he was immediately hired by the Brazilian General Command for Aerospace Technology where he would become part of the Brazilian Institute of Air and Space. He soon became the lead engineer of the Bandeirante project: a turboprop plane designed for both civilian and military purposes.
The first Bandeirante prototype flew in October, 1968. Subsequently, Silva attempted to convince private industry to produce the Bandeirante without success. Undaunted, his role in the development of Embraer continued as both an inventor and an entrepreneur. He led the aeronautical design team that developed a new regional transport plane and built the first prototype. In 1969, when he could not find an established company in Brazil willing to manufacture the plane, he persuaded the Brazilian government to set up Embraer and he served as the CEO of the company until 1986. During that period, the company designed, developed and launched into production 12 models of military and civilian aircraft, built a global supply chain, and achieved international certification and market acceptance.
In 1986 he was appointed President of Petrobras, Brazil’s largest oil company, and then, in 1990 he joined the government as a Minister of State for Infrastructure, covering the areas of telecommunications, energy, transportation, mining and metallurgy. During his 15 month tenure, he laid the groundwork for the privatization of the maritime ports and bolstered companies that improved the logistics of distribution throughout Brazil. Most importantly, he set himself to correcting the huge inequity in communications. With only 2 of 150 million Brazilians having a phone at the time, Silva threaded a needle in existing law to provide for the rapid expansion of cellular technology in Brazil, bypassing the need for landlines. He also expanded zip codes to make deliveries and accessibility to deliverables easier for everyday Brazilian citizens.
He returned to Embraer as CEO from 1991 to 1995 to oversee the arduous process of privatization. As the founder of the company, now with a proven record of negotiating governmental roadblocks, he managed to do it. He subsequently served as President and CEO of Varig Airlines from 2000 to 2002. He went on to academia, currently serving as President of the Innovation Council of Ânima Educação and Chancellor of Universidade São Judas Tadeu. He serves on numerous boards and leadership organizations. He is the author of five books on entrepreneurship, education and the aviation business.
Gary J. Spulak serves as President of Embraer Aircraft Holding, Inc. which is Embraer’s wholly owned U.S. subsidiary. In this role, he is responsible for the oversight of Embraer’s operating companies in the United States encompassing 1,400 employees and eight locations.
In 1995 he assumed responsibility for supporting the industrial and financial operations of Embraer, developing financing alternatives, fund raising and investor relations. He was also responsible for customer sales finance and directed the creation of structures to support the ERJ 145 family regional jet sales to airlines in North America and Europe.
Spulak began his professional career with Federated Department Stores developing cross division IT solutions. He later joined the accounting firm of Price Waterhouse Coopers as a management consultant specializing in manufacturing, retailing, distribution and real estate.
He currently serves as board member for Enterprise Florida and on the Board of Governors for the Wings Club and the Aerospace Industry Association. He is a member of the Visiting Committee for the University of Miami’s College of Engineering, and serves on the Board of Advisors for the Brazilian-American Chamber of Commerce Florida. He previously served on the International Society of Transport Aircraft Trading (ISTAT) Board of Directors and as Vice Chairman of the Board for Space Florida.
Born in New York City, he received a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from the University of Miami, and a Master’s degree in Business Administration from Barry University, where he was recognized in 2010 as a Distinguished Alumni. Spulak was the Honoree of the 2015 Brazil-Florida Business Award given by the Brazil-Florida Business Council, Inc. in Tampa, Florida.
Our advisory board is composed of distinguished members of the private, public and academic communities who bring unique knowledge and skills which augment the knowledge and skills of the formal board of directors in order to more effectively guide the organization.
Ambassador João Mendes Pereira
A career diplomat for 28 years, Ambassador João Mendes Pereira took over the position as Consul-General of Brazil in Miami on October 11, 2018. Prior to that, Ambassador Joao Mendes Pereira was the Head of Protocol to the Ministry of External Relations.
Ambassador João Mendes Pereira also served Brazil at the Brazilian Mission to the European Union in Brussels, at the Brazilian Embassy in Lisbon and at the Permanent Delegation of Brazil to ALADI and Mercosur in Montevidéu. Before that he was the Director of the Department of Latin American Integration Association (ALADI) and Regional Economic Integration, and the Coordinator of Economic Affairs for South America.
Born in Brasilia, he graduated in International Relations at the University of Brasilia. Married to Maria Teresa da Costa Hidd Mendes Pereira, they have two sons, Antonio Victor da Costa Hidd Mendes Pereira and Luiz Felipe da Costa HiddMendes Pereira.
Felipe Berer is a Partner in the Global Commercial Disputes at the Miami office of Reed Smith. He is considered a go-to, trusted advisor for Brazilian clients in the United States. Fluent in Portuguese and admitted to practice in both the U.S. and Brazil, Felipe has been recognized by leading publications, including Chambers and Partners, for his more than 18 years of experience representing clients on cross-border matters involving Brazil and other jurisdictions in Latin America. While the majority of Felipe’s work comprises international litigation, including insolvency proceedings such as Chapters 15 and 11, as well as cross-border discovery and applications for Section 1782, he maintains a wealth of experience on the transactional side, as well. Matters include inbound Brazilian investment in the United States, outbound U.S. investment into Brazil, export controls and sanctions advice under U.S. and Brazilian laws, and trade policy developments and government affairs in Brazil.
Felipe is an Alumnus Fellow of Georgetown University’s Institute of International Economic Law.
Santiago Corrada officially began his position as President and Chief Executive Officer of Visit Tampa Bay in May of last year and provides local experience, management skills, industry knowledge, collaboration expertise and overall leadership ability as well as his passion for Tampa Bay. With more than 20 years of public service and management experience, Corrada most recently served as Chief of Staff for the City of Tampa. In this role, he coordinated and integrated the efforts of more than 50 City departments and divisions. Corrada is well versed in Tampa Bay's tourism industry. In his tenure with city government, Corrada participated in bidding and hosting efforts for large meetings and groups including Super Bowl XLIII and the 2012 Republican National Convention. Additionally, during the Iorio administration, Corrada served as Convention Center, Tourism, Recreation and Cultural Arts Administrator directly overseeing the day-to-day operations of the Tampa Convention Center, the cornerstone of Tampa's convention business. He serves on various not-for-profit boards including The Florida Aquarium, Tampa's Lowry Park Zoo, Glazer Children's Museum, David A. Straz, Jr. Center for the Performing Arts, Tampa Bay History Center, Tampa Museum of Art and Tampa Theatre - all current partners of the tourism organization he now leads. Prior to joining the City of Tampa in 2004 as Neighborhood Services Administrator, Corrada served as the Director of Parks and Recreation for the City of Miami and spent 17 years in the Miami-Dade County School System. Corrada graduated Magna Cum Laude from the University of Miami with a Bachelor's Degree in Psychology and Exceptional Student Education as well as a Master's in Education.
Thomas Eckschmidt is an engineer who holds an Executive MBA in finance from Business School São Paulo, Brazil. His corporate journey included work in twenty different countries before he launched a successful entrepreneurial career that includes twelve business awards, four patents filed, and eleven books published.
A strong believer that business leaders and organizations can do well by doing good, Thomas has been promoting Conscious Capitalism since 2010. He launched a Conscious Capitalism chapter in Brazil and supported the launch of chapters in other countries. Thomas teaches Conscious Capitalism classes in major business schools and in Corporate Governance programs. He also runs workshops that teach the fundamentals of Conscious Capitalism.
Thomas is the cofounder of CBJ Conscious Business Journey with the purpose to accelerate the change to a conscious capitalism, working as a trusted adviser to help organizations implement conscious practices. He cofounded a few conscious businesses along the way, is a B-Corp certified entrepreneur and he also serves on the boards of several different companies.
Rick Homans is President and Chief Executive Officer of the Tampa Hillsborough Economic Development Corporation. Rick, a native of Boston, spent the last 32 years living in New Mexico where he served in the cabinet of Governor Bill Richardson, first as Secretary of Economic Development and subsequently as Secretary of Taxation and Revenue. In 2004, Rick spearheaded the development of the world’s first purpose-built commercial spaceport, Spaceport America, and recruited Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic to base its world headquarters in New Mexico. During his term as Secretary of Economic Development, Rick also led development of the state’s border region with Chihuahua, opened a trade office in Tokyo, and led numerous international trade missions to Europe and Asia.
As Executive Vice President of Marketing and Communications, Chris is responsible for the air service development, advertising, marketing, research, real estate, communications and government relations activities of the Hillsborough County Aviation Authority.
Before joining Tampa International Airport, he spent three years as Assistant Vice President, Air Service Development for Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport with responsibility for passenger and cargo network development in the Americas, Europe, and Africa. His successes included new air service to DFW from San Francisco and Los Angeles on Virgin America and from Amsterdam on KLM.
Prior to his time in Dallas, Chris worked for the Port of Oakland where he led the Marketing and Communications efforts for Oakland International Airport. His duties there including advertising, marketing, customer service, media relations, and air service development.
Chris received a Bachelor’s degree in economics from California State University and completed studies at the University of California at Berkeley and Concordia University in Montreal, Canada. He has served as Vice President of the Airport Area Business Association and on industry leadership committees with Airports Council International.
Dr. Nastari is President and CEO of Datagro Consulting Ltd., one of the world’s leading consulting company specialized in agricultural markets, serving clients in 41 countries. Dr. Nastari holds M.Sc. and Ph.D. degrees in Agricultural Economics, from Iowa State University. Was Professor of Economics at FGV – The Getúlio Vargas Foundation, in São Paulo, in undergraduate and graduate level courses (MBA, Masters and Doctoral programs) from 1984 to 2000. Former Executive Director and President of the Board of the Brazilian Association of Automotive Engineers (AEA), he helped the design of the ethanol specifications which enabled the use of ethanol in fuel injected engines. He has served as member of the Technical Committees of Brazil’s Interministerial Council on Sugar and Alcohol, National Energy Commission, and Commission for Reexam of the Energy Matrix. He has assisted the Brazilian government in Energy Planning (1984-86 and 1991-93), industry deregulation (1997-1999), trade negotiations (1991-2004), and trade disputes. With extensive experience in trade negotiations and trade disputes at the International Trade Commission and the World Trade Organization, Dr. Nastari has acted before the Brazilian Government as Chief Economist in the trade disputes involving ethanol exports to the United States, subsidized sugar exports from the European Union, European Union bananas import regime, and Brazilian regime for the import of used and retreaded tires. He is Arbitrator of the Camara FGV de Arbitragem (Arbitration Chamber of the Getulio Vargas Foundation), and has acted as Expert Testimony in many cases, at this chamber and at ICC, the International Chamber of Commerce, in Paris. Lead author of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)- Second Assessment Report (2AR), and Consultant for Biomass Energy other than Wood, to the World Energy Council. Co-founder and Member of the Sustainable Biofuels Consensus (Bellagio Consensus), Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Center, Bellagio, Italy, 2008, and Participant of the Bled Strategic Forum, since 2008 in Bled, Slovenia. Dr. Nastari is Member of the World Sugar Committee, at ICE Futures (Intercontinental Exchange) in New York, where recommendations are made for improvements in contract rules and other matters related to the world trade of sugar. Member of PAPSAC, the Private and Public, Scientific, Academic and Consumer Food Policy Group, at Harvard University, in Boston. He leads a team of 97 collaborators at Datagro, housed in six offices (Alphaville, Sao Paulo/Capital, Ribeirao Preto, Santos, Recife and New York), assisting a host of companies in market analysis, investments in production and logistics assets related to sugar, ethanol and other agroindustrial activities, in countries in the Amercias, Africa, Europe, and Asia. Throughout the years, Dr. Nastari established a fruitful cooperation between Datagro and the International Sugar Organization (ISO), jointly organizing the prestigious Sugar & Ethanol Conference that precedes the New York Sugar Dinner for the last nine years. He was Chairman of the 19th ISO Annual Seminar in London. Organizer of the Sugar & Ethanol Summit – Brazil Day, for three consecutive years in London, in cooperation with Brazil’s Ministry of External Relations. Organizer for 14 consecutive years of the traditional Datagro International Conference in São Paulo that precedes the São Paulo Sugar Dinner, and the Datagro Ceise Br Fenasucro Conference in Sertãozinho, SP, the largest equipment fair for sugar & ethanol in the world. Organizer of the Global Agribusiness Forum, in partnership with the Brazilian Rural Society (SRB), a biannual venue. Dr. Nastari is a frequent speaker at energy, biofuels and agribusiness conferences around the globe, with frequent attendance in London, Paris, Washington, Orlando, Sao Paulo, Singapore, Amsterdam and Dubai. Phi Kappa Phi, Gamma Sigma Delta. Prizes President Ernesto Geisel, Canassauro Rex, and Top Ethanol 2014. From his contribution to the development of biofuels in the US Dr. Nastari has been granted an honorary Nebraskan Citizenship, and has been awarded at the White House for his contribution to the development of biofuels use in aviation. Married to Rute, the couple has three children, Francisco (30), Louise (29) and Luiz Felipe (28), and one granddaughter, Carolina (1).
Marcelo Souccar has provided software solutions to the professional services industry for more than two decades. He has a Bachelor in Law from the Pontifical Catholic University of Sao Paulo (PUC-SP), an MBA with a specialization in IT from the University of Sao Paulo’s FIA Business School (FIA-USP) and an Master in Science of Administration from the Stanford Graduate School of Business. In 2000, following a three-year stint at one of Brazil's largest law firms, Machado Meyer Sendacz e Opice, Souccar launched his first Venture, an IT consulting company for the legal industry. In 2002, the company merged with BCS Informatica, a Brazilian IT solutions provider serving major Latin American law offices. When BCS was acquired by Brazil-based TOTVS, the sixth-largest software company in the world, Marcelo rose through the ranks from senior manager to C-level executive. In 2017, Marcelo became CEO and Partner of Juridical Information Technology Solutions (JurITis), a productivity software and business solutions provider supporting Latin American legal, accounting and other professional services firms as the first channel of TOTVS in US. The company was chosen TOTVS’ partner of the year in 2014 and 2015 and HP’s Latin American legal services partner of the year in 2015, and the company expanded to the US in 2017. In 2017 Marcelo also joined as Board Member of Thinc a brazilian IOT company specialized in edge computing and retrofit of legacy equipment. In 2019, Juritis was selected as the first channel of Digibee Hybrid Integration Platform in US lead by Marcelo in this new endeavor.
Ronaldo Veirano is the founding partner of Veirano Advogados and is a highly regarded legal expert, recognized internationally for his statesmanship, facility with sophisticated legal issues and significant network of global contacts. Over the years, clients have sought his advice on a myriad of issues surrounding corporate law and operating in Brazil. He has served as an advisor to numerous corporations and their boards, along with governments and their officials from across the globe. An erudite and accomplished speaker, Mr. Veirano is frequently invited to address international audiences on a variety of complex legal subjects, trade issues and other topics that affect companies, countries and their growth.
In 1972, while a partner with U.S. law firm Baker & McKenzie, Mr. Veirano opened the firm’s Rio de Janeiro office. A true visionary, he predicted the impending changes to the Brazilian legal landscape and the opportunity for Brazil to become a significant player in international arena and, in 1996, formed Veirano Advogados. His goal was to establish a Brazilian firm that was built on deep legal knowledge, combined with superior client service, to serve the needs of Brazilian companies and international corporations that also recognized the crucial role Brazil would play in the world economy. Today, Veirano Advogados is considered among the leading law firms in Brazil with more than 270 attorneys across the country. Clients, peers and the media frequently recognize the Firm, and its attorneys for their significant accomplishments including selection by Chambers & Partners in 2010 for the first Latin American Client Service Award.
A recognized leader in Brazil and globally, Mr. Veirano has been actively involved in efforts to advance the development of business between Brazil and other countries. In 2000, he was appointed as Honorary Consul of Australia for Rio de Janeiro and has actively promoted business between the two countries. In recognition of his continued service and success, the Governor-General of Australia appointed Mr. Veirano as an Honorary Member of the General Division of the Order of Australia in 2009.
In early 2008, Mr. Veirano was nominated by the Brazilian Government to join the prestigious Fulbright Commission, which grants scholarships to Brazilian students to study, lecture or conduct research in the United States. In addition, the Brazilian government awarded Mr. Veirano with the Order of Rio Branco in the rank of Commander. The Order of Rio Branco was created in 1963 to recognize and celebrate the merits of Brazilian and foreign individuals who have significantly contributed to the promotion of Brazil's relations with the world. In 2008, he was honored by the Legislative Assembly of Rio de Janeiro and was awarded the venerated Tiradentes Medal, given for service to the City.
Mr. Veirano is a member of several national and international associations and plays a role in top management of several of these organizations. He is currently a member of the Executive Committee of the Brazil-United States Business Council – Brazilian Section; Brazil-China Business Council; Coordinator of the Governance and Nominating Committee of the Brazilian Corporate Governance Institute (IBGC) – of which he is one of the founding members, Board of Directors of UMOE Bioenergy ASA and member of the Advisory Board of the Brazil Institute of the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington, DC. Mr. Veirano is also the Chairman Emeritus of World Services Group, a global network of leading law firms and other professional services providers.
Early career highlights for Mr. Veirano include five years (1966-1971) as an in-house attorney with the Kendall Company in Boston, Massachusetts where he focused on international affairs. This formative experience early in his career gave him a rare Insight into the challenges faced by in-house counsel and he has continued to utilize this knowledge to build the strong firm that Veirano Advogados is today.
Professional Associations and Memberships
• American Chamber of Commerce (AMCHAM), Rio de Janeiro, board member and former chair
• American Chamber of Commerce (AMCHAM), São Paulo, board member
• American Club, Rio de Janeiro, former chair
• Brazil-Florida Business Council, Inc. (BFBC), Advisory Board Member
• Brazilian-Swedish Chamber of Commerce, advisory board member
• Brazilian Center for International Relations (CEBRI), board member
• British Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Brazil (BRITCHAM), former chair
• Gávea Golf Country Club, former board member and chair (8 years consecutively)
• German-Brazilian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (AHK)
• International Bar Association (IBA), Law Firm Management Committee, senior co-chair
• Inter-Pacific Bar Association, International Trade Committee, co-chair
• World Services Group (WSG), chairman emeritus
Articles and Publications
• “Regulatory Framework in the Port Sector: A Risk of Kickbacks,” American Chamber of Commerce Annual Yearbook 2010
• “Looking Ahead,” Marcasur, June 2009
• “Protecting Visual Identity Efforts,” Propriedade e Ética, August, 2008
Speeches and Presentations
• Private Mergers & Acquisitions/Global Trends in Buyer Protection, New York State Bar Association, Lisbon, October 2012
• Green Growth, Food Security and Education Research, roundtable presentation, Global Foundation, Rio de Janeiro, June 2012
• Opportunities and Challenges in Latin America's Largest Economy, New York City Bar Association, NY, NY, April 2012
• Opportunities and Challenges for Investment in Brazil, Japan Bank for International Cooperation, Tokyo, November 2011
• Opportunities and Challenges for Investment in Brazil, Brazilian Embassy, Tokyo, November 2011
• Why Have National Bar Association Rules and Regulations?, International Bar Association (IBA) Annual Conference, Dubai, November 2011
• Developing the International Lawyer, International Bar Association (IBA) Annual Conference, Dubai, November 2011
• Private Mergers and Acquisitions – Local Implementation of International Practices, New York Bar Association, Panama, September 2011
• Legal Aspects – Business in Brazil, Consulate General of the United States, Rio de Janeiro, August 2011
• Looking for Opportunities Between Brazil and the Lombardy Region, Federation of Industries of Rio de Janeiro (FIRJAN), Rio de Janeiro, July 2011
• Law Firm Sustainable Growth and Quality Management, Fenelaw Congress, Rio de Janeiro, June 2010
• Brazilian Investments in Africa: Political Issues, Economic and Legal Issues, FIRJAN, Rio de Janeiro, April 2011
• New Challenges for Inter-American Corporate Counsel - Recent Legal and Tax Developments in Brazil, México, Chile and Argentina: Pros and Cons and What to Expect in This New Year, University of Miami School of Law, Miami, FL, April 2011
• How to Do Business in Brazil, Norwegian-Brazilian Chamber of Commerce, Rio de Janeiro, February 2011
• Doing Business in Brazil, The Economist (webinar), Brazil, December 2010
• Overview on Economic, Legal and Political Aspects of Doing Business and Investing in Brazil and Sector Opportunities, Australia-Brazil Chamber of Commerce, Sydney, October 2010
• Infrastructure, The 2nd Latin America-China Investors Forum, Beijing, September 2010
• Latest Legal Developments and Investment Opportunities in Brazil, Swiss-Brazilian Chamber of Commerce, Zurich, September 2010
• Brazilian Bar Association (OAB) – Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo
• Illinois State Bar, United States (currently inactive)
• Portuguese Bar Association
• J.D., Suffolk University Law School, Boston, Massachusetts, 1971
• LL.B, Universidade do Estado do Rio de Janeiro (UERJ), 1963
Honors and Accolades
• Chambers & Partners – Latin American Lifetime Achievement Award -- 2012
• Chambers & Partners – Client Service Award -- 2010
• PLC Which Lawyer - Corporate / M&A -- 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012
• Who's Who Legal Brazil - Corporate Governance -- 2010, 2011, 2012
• Best Lawyers -- Corporate / M&A -- 2009
Portuguese, English and Spanish.
Founding President and Chairman
Born and raised in São Paulo, Brazil, Ms. Sueli Bonaparte is the Founder and President of the Brazil-Florida Business Council. Prior to that, she was Executive Director of The Brazilian-American of Commerce, Inc. in New York City for almost seventeen years. Bonaparte was also the Founding President of The Brazilian Institute of Arizona, Inc. For almost four decades, she has played a critical role in the forging of closer ties between the business communities of Brazil and the U.S..
Bonaparte has been awarded the prestigious Foreign Policy Association Meritorious Honor Award (New York) and the Rio Branco Commendation, an honorific ordem of Brazil intended to persons and institutions that by their services or exceptional merits, have become deserving of this distinction. She also received the Order of Merit of Ecumenical Fraternity Decoration bestowed by The Legion of Good Will.
She earned a B.A. degree in History from the University of São Paulo, an M.S. in Bicultural Education from St. John's University, and was also bestowed the Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from St. Thomas Aquinas College.
Vice President / Secretary
Arnaldo Carrera is currently a Partner of Keppler Global, an advisory firm for high net worth families. He was formerly a founder and managing director at Strategic Business Alliance, a consulting firm that helped IT, manufacturing, agriculture and healthcare clients to enter or expand into the USA, Brazil, and China. He was also the co-founder and COO of TradePostUSA a digital publishing company. With over 30 years of experience in banking, technology, finance, media, and operations, he has served at the top executive levels at Safra National Bank, Chase Manhattan Bank, Deutsche Bank, and Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce. Arnaldo is a seasoned entrepreneur having mentored and raised funds for several start-up companies.
Arnaldo holds a bachelor's degree in Economics and Physics from Rutgers University and a master of science in management engineering from the N.J. Institute of Technology. He completed executive education programs at NYU's Stern School of Business and IBM's Advanced Business Institute. Arnaldo served as a trustee of ITDU (a non-profit corporation that promoted the publication of reliable trade data), the ACLU-NJ (American Civil Liberties Union), and other non-profit boards. He was also a councilman and deputy mayor of his New Jersey Township. Born in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Arnaldo has lived in the U.S. for over 50 years and is fluent in Portuguese and conversational Spanish. He earned the distinction as the first Brazilian-American elected to public office in the U.S
Bernardo Piccolo P.A. CRS,CIPS,GRI,ABR,SFR is the leader of a residential and commercial real estate practice with 15 years of market experience in the Tampa Bay and surrounding area. With over 800 transactional parties assisted and $100+ millions in real estate sales, Bernardo Piccolo PA is within the top 1% in sales volume and units sold in the Tampa Bay region. Bernardo and his team specializes in domestic and international relocation, investment real estate, residential and commercial sales.
Board of Directors
Otavio Carneiro focuses his work on outbound investment in Brazil and Latin America and inbound investment from Brazil in the United States. Otavio has assisted a number of clients in transactional and regulatory work in a variety of sectors, such as oil and gas (farm-in/farm-outs, drilling services, supply agreements etc.), infrastructure, IT, banking, mining, construction, shipping, real estate, and agriculture, among others. He concentrates his practice on cross border and domestic corporate and financing transactions, including acquisitions, divestitures, joint ventures, corporate reorganizations, and loan transactions involving foreign banks and multilateral agencies and Brazilian banks, such as the Brazilian Bank for National, Economic and Social Development (BNDES). Otavio also regularly provides regulatory and contractual legal advice and risk matrix analysis to major Asian, European, and U.S. players in relation to public and private bids for their existing or potential activities in Brazil.
Prior to joining Akerman, Otavio worked for 21 years at a top Brazilian law firm where he assisted clients in navigating the complex Brazilian legal system. Otavio is highly regarded for his work in the oil and gas industry, particularly with respect to shipping and shipping finance transactions, and has been ranked as a leading practitioner by publications such as Chambers Global, Chambers Latin America, Legal 500, Who is Who, Latin Lawyer, Best Lawyers and Analysis Editorial.
Daniel Aguiar de Melo
Daniel Aguiar de Melo is a partner with A15 Investments, a Florida based company that specializes in educational investments. He started his career as a project engineer for commercial and residential construction in Brazil, then he joined the Whirlpool Group Brazil, as responsible for introduction of new products to the Brazilian market. After his experience in the construction and manufacturing sectors, Daniel joined educational business as a manager of a group of private high schools under the Objetivo System, Brazil’s largest educational holding. With more than a decade experience managing educational institutions from the ground up, Daniel moved to Florida in 2014 to pioneer his family educational business in the United States. Currently, Daniel manages the planning, construction and operations of Educational Child Care Centers in Central Florida, under the Kiddie Academy franchise. Daniel holds an Electrical Engineering degree and a Master’s degree in Business Administration. He lives in Orlando, FL with his wife.
Gonzalo Padron is Director of Marketing & Business Development, Latin America, Port Tampa Bay. Gonzalo has more than 20 years of sales and business development experience within the maritime transportation industry. His responsibilities include Port Tampa Bay's outreach and liaison with beneficial cargo owners and ocean carriers, with a particular focus on trade with Latin America.
Gonzalo began his career working for ocean carriers Tecmarine Lines and Seaboard Marine, traveling the Caribbean and Latin America extensively. Prior to joining the Port Tampa Bay, he was employed by DHL Global Forwarding as Manager of Strategic Accounts, Datamyne as Business Development Manager - Maritime, and PIERS as Maritime Regional Manager.
Gonzalo is a graduate of Barry University. Fluently bi-lingual English/Spanish, he has a strong background in international trade data analysis and account management. Gonzalo is active in numerous transportation professional organizations.